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Radiotherapy After Breast Surgery Improves Outcomes

Researchers find it reduces the risk of breast cancer mortality over next 15 years

FRIDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients who undergo radiotherapy after lumpectomy and mastectomy have significantly improved long-term survival, according to a study published in the Dec. 17 issue of The Lancet.

Sarah Darby, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford, U.K., and colleagues in the Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group, studied data on 42,000 women with early breast cancer who participated in 78 randomized trials of radiotherapy and different types of surgery.

In women who underwent lumpectomy, the researchers found that the five-year risk of local recurrence was 7% with radiotherapy compared to 26% without and that 15-year breast cancer morality was 30.5% with radiotherapy compared to 35.9% without. In women who underwent mastectomy and surgery to remove armpit nodes, the researchers found that the five-year risk of local recurrence was 6% with radiotherapy compared to 23% without and that 15-year breast cancer mortality was 54.7% with radiotherapy compared to 60.1% without.

"These trials of radiotherapy and of the extent of surgery show that, in the hypothetical absence of other causes of death, about one breast cancer death over the next 15 years would be avoided for every four local recurrences avoided," the authors conclude.

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